Everyone - thanks for the supportive comments. Much appreciated. Really.
While we were at the hospital we visited H, mother of FL’s good friend G. G was the one who visited almost daily in the early days of FL’s diagnosis and he talked to us a lot about his mother then. H is 85 and has survived several different sorts of cancer over a period of 15 years or so. She was admitted to hospital in severe pain on Monday night. New pain in a new place. Now while this might seem like a depressing visit for FL to make, it was potentially inspiring.
H was sitting up in bed like a tiny little sparrow, her dark eyes sparkling with fun (though the painkillers probably added to this!). She grabbed my hand and kept saying that the only way to defeat this illness was to fight it and that if FL gives in, he doesn’t stand a chance. But if he refuses to give in, he could last for years - like her. She said she has had enough pain now, and she is ready to go, but HE has plenty of years left, plenty to live for, and that I MUST keep reminding him! H has lost two of her daughters to cancer and the third has just received her diagnosis. She knows what she is talking about. And still she has the energy and humour to give FL a dressing down about positive thinking!
FL is gloomy. As usual, he is assuming the worst. So no matter how much of my hopeful internet research I share with him (only 250 men are diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the UK every year, so what are the chances, eh?) he just opens one sleepy eye and grunts something like “Huh!” He is looking tired and defeated and I am having none of it. I get home from work and take him straight out into the fields for a walk with the dog, to blow away the cobwebs.
You must have heard the phrase “cancer personality”, meaning someone whose outlook on life is so negative they are especially susceptible to this disease. If ever you had met FL before last year, you would have been bowled over by his zest for life, the charismatic zeal with which he talked about the sky-scapes or archaeology or golf or malt whisky! So it is particularly ironic that his mood has changed so dramatically. The very character traits that should have been his protection have all but disappeared. I hope so very much that H gets through her latest episode and I hope that FL visits her again so that she can give him another dose of her very special medicine. What an amazing woman!